Monday, April 10, 2006

Fool Versus Tree

Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was Blake who said that a fool sees not the same tree that the wise man sees, and if I could degrade that quite remarkable insight into the human condition somewhat by reducing it to a literal observation perhaps I could somehow employ it to account in part for a strange phenomenon which has been occurring around these parts for some little while now, much to the consternation of the local residents, not to mention the poor old hard-done-by men of the Clapham Ambulance. Indeed, if I may be permitted to take the unprecedented liberty of going so far as to paraphrase the great poet by saying that the drunk driver sees not the same tree that the sober one sees, perhaps we'd be making some headway towards enlightenment.

So then, just what is it about trees that the young man of today finds so repugnant? Heavens, when I was a young buck about town, back in another century, I wouldn't have heard a word said against the good old tree. The oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree - why, we even used quite literally to sing about our feelings for them. The holly and the ivy, and all that. Time was when a man showed a bit of respect for the flora of his native land. Sadly no longer.

No, the trend these days appears to be to drink oneself insensible and then drive one's car, ideally accompanied by a few of one's chums, as fast as possible headlong at the first suitable tree one can find, usually a large one of the chestnut family, and preferably, such are the bewildering demands of fashion, close to the apex of a right hand bend in the road. Presumably, though I'm only guessing here, the purpose of these unwarranted arborial assaults is to try and achieve the hilarious result of knocking the tree down, though I've seen precious little success in that respect so far, despite numerous attempts by the local lads just recently.

Just my luck, I attended one of these cases a couple of weeks back, quite by chance and while off duty. I determined this time to advise the driver, who for some reason had chosen to lie down in the road, of the obvious benefits of selecting something much smaller to start with, a frail and spindly sapling for instance, until he'd got the hang of it, as it were, but my words fell on deaf ears. Some people simply refuse to listen to well-meant and impartial advice, though on this occasion I'm prepared to overlook his ignorance on the grounds that he was quite dead. It'll be scant comfort to his family, I suppose, but at least the trees of the neighbourhood can now rest a little easier of a night.

His seriously injured chums were altogether too vociferous for my taste, and showed very little inclination towards cooperation or even the rudiments of good manners, so I turned my attentions to the poor tree, which had sustained a nasty gash to the bark about a yard above ground level. There was nothing much I could do, and I knew it would heal itself over time, so I slipped away into the night and left them to wait for the emergency services.